What were you doing when you were 16?

jason-fullI watched my mom take her last breath in a hospital room in Carmichael, California on June 19, 1985. 

I was 16 years old when my mom died of lung cancer.

My mother, Gail, began smoking as a teenager.  Like many teens of her generation, smoking was seen as "cool," plus, her own parents both smoked, so she figured "how bad could it be?" 

It got really bad really quick.

If you thought smoking was someone else’s problem, I hope
my story will change your mind.

She gradually got up to two to three packs a day.  In June of 1984, at the age of 43, she was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma in both lungs and was given a year to live.  She was forced to immediately retire from her job.  The home that she had just purchased three years prior would have to be sold and we moved in with a friend of hers. 

She underwent chemotherapy to try and slow the metastasis, but to no avail. 
I watched her lose her hair, vomit blood, and lose her ability to care for herself. 

My mother never got to see me graduate from the high school that she worked three jobs to pay the tuition for.  She missed out on my college graduation and never got to meet my wife. 

I could have used her guidance in high school and beyond, but all I had was her memory.

I look at the change tobacco has made in my life and I try to help others. I see people smoking and I can immediately relate how their children must feel about it. Even if I can't bring her back, I know that I can change somebody's life by voting for the California Cancer Research Act in June. Big differences don't happen without small ones.


sotc-2012-buttonGo back to the State of Tobacco Control 2012 report.